The health of our children is everyone’s concerns, but in Kentucky, where alarming numbers of school age children are at high risk for chronic disease, the level of concern has reached extreme highs.
A group of concerned adults that represent a broad mix from the Albany and Clinton County Community, are hoping to be able to come up with solutions to the problem, and last week they learned that their initial efforts had been met with approval on the financial level.
Several members of the Clinton County Healthy Hometown Coalition met briefly at the Clinton County School Board conference room to hear Clinton County Assistant Superintendent Paula Little make the announcement that Albany and Clinton County and the Clinton County Schools had been selected for a first round grant that will enable the group to take the program to the next tier.
The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky has chosen Clinton County Schools as one of its seven (7) community partners for the new Investing in Kentucky’s Future (IKF) initiative.
Rural and urban grantees are geographically representative of the entire Commonwealth. This five-year, $3 million program seeks to test innovative ways to reduce chronic disease risks for school aged children.
“The health of our next generation is at stake,” said Susan Zepeda, CEO and President of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “Our goal is to help communities make positive changes that will help our children start and sustain healthy habits for a lifetime. Regardless of the challenges, we want to help communities find new pathways to positive solutions.”
Clinton County Schools’ initial grant of $27,755 includes funding for planning, training and technical assistance so community groups can determine the most promising strategies to launch effective, sustainable models to improve children’s health.
“We are thrilled that our community was chosen to participate in this important initiative,” said Little. “The members of the Healthy Hometown Coalition are committed to helping children grow up in a physical, social, and cultural environment that supports good health habits. With help from the Foundation, we can develop our capacity to make a lasting, positive change in our community.”
The Clinton County Healthy Hometown Coalition will work with the Foundation to collect and analyze data then develop ideas and implement solutions to help our children avoid chronic diseases and grow to be healthy, thriving adults.
The Healthy Hometown Coalition group is composed of a broad cross-section of Albany and Clinton County adults from a host of backgrounds – all concerned about the health and well-being of those who will be the next generation of local adults and leaders.
The Coalition group represents leaders from our education, business, health-care, service and government areas.
At last week’s meeting, after hearing Little make the announcement confirming the local effort had received the grant for the initial stages of the program, Little was elected to serve as Chairperson for the group.
Albany Mayor Nicky Smith was selected to be the Vice-Chairperson for the Coalition and Lora Brewington with Cumberland Family Medical Center was selected to serve as Secretary.
Chronic diseases are diseases that last over time, decrease quality of life and increase the risk of early death. They include conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Substance abuse and some mental illnesses are also chronic. These chronic diseases occur at higher rates in Kentucky than in surrounding states. National statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal Kentucky’s children are also above the national average in several chronic disease risk factors:
• Almost four in ten (37 percent) between the ages of 10 and 17 are obese.
• One in every 400 children and adolescents either has or will be diagnosed with diabetes.
• More than one in four (26 percent) high school students smoke cigarettes.
• When children grow into adulthood, Kentucky is above the national average in deaths from heart disease, cancer and stroke.
The Foundation relies on local leaders to identify critical health needs and helps focus investments on how best to engage the community in order to have the biggest impact.
“This is the first step in our multi-year approach which will lead to implementation of programs in each of the seven communities,” concluded Zepeda. “We believe that by working together on the local level, civic leaders with vision can develop innovative strategies to improve the health of our children.”
More than 50 interested organizations responded to the Foundation’s Request for Proposals in October, 2012, by submitting letters of intent. Of those, 22 were invited to submit a full proposal. The Foundation’s Grants Committee thoroughly evaluated projects for funding before recommending seven (7) to the Board of Directors, which approved them.